London, England (2019)

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London, England, that is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques

Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in Soho in the City of Westminster, Central London, England, that is home to fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques

 

“A tireless innovator of art and culture, London is a city of ideas and the imagination.  Londoners have always been fiercely independent thinkers (and critics), but until not so long ago people were suspicious of anything they considered avant-garde.  That’s in the past now, and the city’s creative milieu is streaked with left-field attitude, whether it’s theatrical innovation, contemporary art, pioneering music, writing, poetry, architecture or design.  Food is another creative arena that has become a tireless obsession in certain circles.  This city is deeply multicultural, with one in three Londoners foreign-born, representing 270 nationalities and 300 tongues.  The UK may have voted for Brexit (although the majority of Londoners didn’t), but for now London remains one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, and diversity infuses daily life, food, music and fashion.” – http://www.lonelyplanet.com

 

Kingly Court (off Kingly Street in Soho), City of Westminster, London, England

Kingly Court (off Kingly Street in Soho), City of Westminster, London, England

 

Delicious sandwiches for lunch at the Bread Ahead Cafe in Kingly Court, Soho, City of Westminster, London, England

Delicious sandwiches for lunch at the Bread Ahead Cafe in Kingly Court, Soho, City of Westminster, London, England

 

We were very impressed by how contemporary London has become, from its diversity to the broad range of lifestyle options and a big focus on sustainability -- taking care of the city and the environment

We were very impressed by how contemporary London has become, from its diversity to the broad range of lifestyle options and a big focus on sustainability — taking care of the city and the environment

 

Liberty of London department store, Soho (off Regent Street), City of Westminster, London, England

Liberty of London department store, Soho (off Regent Street), City of Westminster, London, England

 

All Souls Church of Langham Place, London is a 19th-century, working evangelical church, designed by John Nash, with an ornate galleried hall

All Souls Church of Langham Place, London is a 19th-century, working evangelical church, designed by John Nash, with an ornate galleried hall

 

A residential building beautifully adorned with flowers in Soho, City of Westminster, London, England

A residential building beautifully adorned with flowers in Soho, City of Westminster, London, England

 

Wimpole Street, Marylebone, City of Westminster, London, England

Wimpole Street, Marylebone, City of Westminster, London, England

 

“The most famous resident [of Wimpole Street] was the poet Elizabeth Barrett, who lived at 50 Wimpole Street with her family from 1838 until 1846 when she eloped with Robert Browning.  The street became famous from the play based on their courtship, The Barretts of Wimpole Street…  Virginia Woolf memorably describes Wimpole Street in Flush: A Biography, beginning: “It is the most august of London streets, the most impersonal.  Indeed, when the world seems tumbling to ruin, and civilisation rocks on its foundations, one has only to go to Wimpole Street…”.  The street was also given as the address of Henry Higgins by Bernard Shaw in his play Pygmalion and in the musical adaptation My Fair Lady, 27a is given as the address.  22a Wimpole Street is referenced in the Monty Python sketch ‘Secret Service Dentists’. — Wikipedia

 

The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London, England, whose large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden"

The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London, England, whose large building is often referred to as simply “Covent Garden”, after a previous use of the site of the opera house’s original construction in 1732

 

A pianist playing as background for the afternoon (cream) tea and high tea served at the Savoy Hotel, London, England

A pianist playing as background for the afternoon (cream) tea and high tea served at the Savoy Hotel, London, England

 

“Afternoon Tea at The Savoy is an enduring custom that has been a feature of the hotel since it opened in 1889.  The restaurant terrace was a popular venue, as it combined The Savoy’s usual impeccable service with a panoramic view of the Thames.  English weather being what it was, the terrace was soon glazed in and incorporated into the body of the main restaurant, where fashionable couples enjoyed mid-afternoon refreshments.  By the 1920s, Afternoon Tea was a firm tradition at The Savoy.  Surviving menus show that today’s sandwiches, followed by patisserie were then established parts of Afternoon Tea; other offerings included toast, English muffins, ice cream, fruit salad, and boxes of chocolates.  Hot gaufres (a thin sweet waffle) were made to order if requested.  Tea itself might have even be substituted by coffee or hot chocolate.  Such sweet indulgence was offset by a little gentle exercise: The Savoy offered thés dansant, where the house dance bands provided a background of popular tunes, and professional dancers demonstrated the latest steps and danced with the guests.” – www.thesavoylondon.com

 

Afternoon tea at The Savoy with a range of JING teas, finger sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam, and a range of delicate and imaginative pastries and signature cakes, London, England

Afternoon tea at The Savoy with a range of JING teas, finger sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam, and a range of delicate and imaginative pastries and signature cakes, London, England

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Stellenbosch Winelands (near Cape Town), South Africa (2018)

After an excellent wine tasting in the Vergelegen Wine Estate wine tasting and information center, we had a tour of the property, beginning in the herb garden, Somerset West (Stellenbosc

After an excellent wine tasting in the Vergelegen Wine Estate wine tasting and information center, we had a tour of the property, beginning in the herb garden, Somerset West (Stellenbosch wine region), South Africa

 

Thanks to the expert guidance of our ship’s Head Sommelier, we planned a one day outing from the ship’s dock in the V&A Harbour in Cape Town, South Africa, to the Stellenbosch wine country – an area we have visited several times on previous trips, and always a joy to return to.  Madeline Puckette, a certified sommelier and writer (e.g., Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine) posted an excellent description of the area:

“Many of the photos we see of South African vineyards – positioned in front of striking granite mountains – are from the Stellenbosch area.  It contains the most developed winelands; it is home to an important wine University (University of Stellenbosch); and it is the center of wine tourism.  In short, Stellenbosch is to South African wine much like Napa is to Californian wine [emphasis added].  Of course, finding good wine from Stellenbosch can be challenging because there are so many producers.  However, there is a secret to exploring the area.  The highest rated wines tend come from vineyards that are on alluvial fans of the granite mountains.  The wines from these locations are often described as having a subtle mineral note which many believe is from the decomposed granite soils.  The granite mountains are approximately 600 million years old, over 3 times as old as the soil in Napa.” – http://www.winefolly.com/review/wines-south-africas-stellenbosch-district

Our first stop was at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch wine subregion of Somerset West.  “Vergelegen, meaning ‘situated far away’ [in Dutch], was granted to the Governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, in 1700.  Since then, the estate has been crafted by some of the world’s greatest explorers and visionaries, who each in their own way, have helped shape Vergelegen to what it is today: a world-class Estate.  Vergelegen has been owned by the Anglo American plc group since 1987.

 

The Vergelegen homestead, well preserved and open to visitors, including many historical displays along with period furniture, Somerset West, South Africa

The Vergelegen homestead, well preserved and open to visitors, including many historical displays along with period furniture, Somerset West, South Africa

 

Classical 18th century Dutch South African architecture as seen in the back of the Vergelegen homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

Classical 18th century Dutch South African architecture as seen in the back of the Vergelegen homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

“Vergelegen has twice won the coveted Château Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande Trophy for the best red blend and continues to achieve critical acclaim for its success in maintaining the delicate balance between wine production, the conservation of its rich heritage and the environment…  The philosophy of our award-winning gardens is to reflect the best from all of the historical periods of the past 300 years.  There are 17 unique gardens to explore and wander through, ranging from the only Camellia Garden of Excellence in South Africa, to the splendid Octagonal Garden.” — Vergelegen Wine Estate brochure

 

Flowers in the Octagonal Garden, leading up to the Homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

Flowers in the Octagonal Garden, leading up to the Homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

The Camphor Tree (Cinnamon Camphora) is a native of China and Japan was introduced to the Cape region about 1670 by the Dutch East Indies; these trees were planted by W.A. van der Stel b

The Camphor Tree (Cinnamon Camphora) is a native of China and Japan was introduced to the Cape region about 1670 by the Dutch East Indies; these trees were planted by W.A. van der Stel between 1700 and 1706 and were proclaimed a South African National Monument in 1942; Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa – note that commercial camphor is extracted from the camphor tree wood

 

We enjoyed a tasting of the olives and olive oils grown, processed and produced at the Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

We enjoyed a tasting of the olives and olive oils grown, processed and produced at the Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

A short drive away, on a parcel of land that was originally part of the old Vergelegen land grant, was Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate.  Breaking up our morning of wine tasting, we decided to just do an olive oil tasting – some of the finest in South Africa, with all of the olive trees having been imported from Italy over the years by the estate owner Giulio Bertrand.  “Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate in Somerset West, 35 minutes from Cape Town, is at the gateway to the Western Cape wine-growing region.  It is a thriving olive and wine farm dating back to 1711, producing internationally acclaimed Bordeaux-style wines and extra virgin olive oil of astounding quality.   The Morning Star within a scallop shell as depicted on the front gable of Morgenster’s beautiful manor house, the private home of owner Giulio Bertrand, is the Estate’s signature and features on the labels of its fine wines and olive products.  Visitors to the Estate’s stylish Revel Fox designed tasting room, which is set against the Schaapenberg and overlooks a reed lined dam and the Helderberg, can enjoy a wine tasting experience unique in South Africa.  The Estate’s philosophy is to release its red Bordeaux style blends only when they have developed and aged to potential and the cellar therefore houses highly awarded earlier vintages under its Morgenster and Lourens River Valley labels. ”www.morgenster.co.za   We enjoyed the olive oils in the tasting so much that we bought several bottles to take back to our kitchen aboard the ship – the award winning extra virgin olive oil and the lemon enhanced extra virgin olive oil.

 

Vineyards at DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyards at DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

Heading north up towards the town of Stellenbosch, we then went a little to the west to our final winery visit of the morning, DeMorgenzon, founded in 1699.  “All wine estates in the Western Cape are beautiful and all have unique terroir.  However, we believe that DeMorgenzon is the most extraordinary of them all.  Our slopes rise from about 200 meters (656 feet) to nearly 400 meters (1,312 feet) above sea level and our vistas embrace Cape Town, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Cape Hangklip, the Hottentots Holland mountains, Helderberg and Simonsberg with the ocean as a backdrop.  While we could call ourselves ‘mountain vineyards’ we prefer to be known as ‘garden vineyards’.  In Spring specially chosen wildflowers flourish between our vines.  We have no doubt that a biodiverse and ecologically sensitive environment produces infinitely better grapes and the beauty of our gardens is captured in every bottle of our wine…  DeMorgenzon, ‘the morning sun,’ was so named as it is the first part of the Stellenboschkloof valley to see the sun because of its high altitude and aspects.  We cover the top southern and eastern slopes of Ribbokkop, overlooking the pinnacle of Kanonkop from where a cannon was fired to alert the farms in the region that a ship had put into Table Bay.  The first road from Cape Town to Stellenbosch ran through the Stellenbosch Kloof.” — www.demorgenzon.com

 

Chenin Blanc (the leading varietal of South African wineries) vineyards, DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa; we brought back some of the excellent Reserve Chenin Blanc to our apartm

Chenin Blanc (the leading varietal of South African wineries) vineyards, DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa; we brought back some of the excellent Reserve Chenin Blanc to our apartment on the ship, along with several other varietals from DeMorgenzon

 

The gardens at DeMorgenzon were stunning, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The gardens at DeMorgenzon were stunning, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

The spectacular planted landscape at DeMorgenzon includes the garden flowers, vineyards and olive groves, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The spectacular planted landscape at DeMorgenzon includes the garden flowers, vineyards and olive groves, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

TOKARA is the embodiment of GT Ferreira_s philosophy that good wine, good food and good art go together to make a good lifestyle; the magnificent installation art by Marco Cianfanelli,

TOKARA is the embodiment of GT Ferreira’s philosophy that good wine, good food and good art go together to make a good lifestyle; the magnificent private commission of installation art by Marco Cianfanelli, The Mind’s Vine, encapsulates the narrative of the creation of TOKARA and reflects the winery’s origins as a superlative wine growing environment — Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

For a late afternoon luncheon and wine tasting with the meal, we headed back to Stellenbosch and then drove east up towards the pass in the Simonsberg Mountains towards Paarl and Franschhoek.  Near the summit we pulled into Tokara Wine Estate for a mid-afternoon repast at the Tokara Restaurant.  We had an excellent multi-course South African cuisine meal with excellent wines from the estate.  We were very disappointed to learn that the delicious, off-menu 2015 Tokara Pinotage was sold out at the winery store.

A note about Pinotage — it is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety, originally bred there in 1925 as a cross between the French varietals Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.

 

One of several tapestries by a well known South African artist on display at the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

One of several tapestries by a well known South African artist on display at the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

The terrace room of the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate overlooks the vineyards on the Simonsberg Mountains, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The terrace room of the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate overlooks the vineyards on the Simonsberg Mountains, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

In 1994 GT Ferreira purchased the Tokara farm for residential purposes.  But that was until the wine-making potential of this land was discovered.  The cool air makes for great wine and soon classic varietals were planted along the slopes of the Helshoogte Pass.  From the estate, visitors are able to catch a glimpse of Idas Valley, False Bay and the Simonsberg Mountains.

 

Vineyards and olive grove on the Simonsberg Mountains, Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyards and olive grove on the Simonsberg Mountains, Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta, Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands (Spain)

Restaurants line the street in Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria in the Canary Island

Restaurants line a street in Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria in the Canary Island

 

We embarked on this journey (heading down the west coast of Africa) in Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands (part of Spain) – our second visit there on the ship in 2018.  [See our previous blogs “Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands (2018)”, “Eat Local: Las 6 Calabazas (tapas), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands”, and “Eat Local: Ô Soleil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands”].  The capital of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, Las Palmas is a major warm weather and beach tourist destination from Europe, especially in the winter months as visitors escape the colder weather on the Continent.  Narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and multiple architectural styles reflect centuries-old Atlantic and Latin American ties in Las Palmas’ oldest neighborhood, Vegueta (Old Town).  The old quarter offers much to visitors walking the streets — historic squares; Catedral de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Cathedral), the first church in the Canary Islands; tapas from outdoor cafés; shopping for fresh fish, meats, fruits and vegetables at Mercado de Vegueta; and dining and nightlife along Calle Mendizábal and Calle Pelota.

 

The restored entry-way to Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

The restored entry-way to Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

While we were perusing the menus, we were served the fixings for “bruschetta” – the garlic was rubbed onto the toasted bread, then some olive oil was poured on, then slices of toma

While we were perusing the menus, we were served the fixings for “bruschetta” – the garlic was rubbed onto the toasted bread, then some olive oil was poured on, then slices of tomato topped with sea salt and olive oil (delicious!) — Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

We took advantage of our short time in port to visit a well-stocked HiperDino superpmercado (supermarket) and the local central produce and meat and fish market, Mercado de Vegueta in the old quarter (Vegueta).  With good friends from the ship, we ventured back to the narrow streets of Vegueta to have our main meal of the day mid-afternoon at Restaurante Fabio Santana on Calle Montesdeoca.  Since the time we enjoyed a wonderful luncheon there several years ago (the restaurant then was named Casa Montesdeoca), the restaurant has new ownership and a talented new chef and we very much enjoyed the new menu and Spanish-fusion cuisine reflecting influences from France, Italy and Japan. Note that the four of us dined family style, sharing all the courses pictured below (except the goat taco which served just one).  We highly recommend a luncheon or dinner there!

 

The dining tables are under the balcony of the courtyard at Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

The dining tables are under the balcony of the courtyard at Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

An appetizer of croquettes (left-to-right- ham, spinach and fish), Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

An appetizer of croquettes (left-to-right: ham, spinach and fish), Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

An appetizer of a goat taco, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

An appetizer of a goat taco, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

An appetizer of octopus terrine with potato salad, to be eaten with a touch of the olive oil sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islan

An appetizer of octopus terrine with potato salad, to be eaten with a touch of the olive oil sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

An appetizer of warm prawn salad, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

An appetizer of warm prawn salad, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

An appetizer of crab raviolis with basil-lime sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

An appetizer of crab raviolis with basil-lime sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

Following a delicious Spanish white wine from the Rioja region with the appetizers, we enjoyed an excellent Ribera del Duero red wine with our main courses, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Ve

Following a delicious Spanish white wine from the Rioja region with the appetizers, we enjoyed an excellent Ribera del Duero red wine with our main courses, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

A main course of pureed potatoes, several kinds of fresh mushrooms, soft eggs and crumbles and chips of dried mushrooms – surprisingly the tastiest dish of the meal!; Restaurante Fabio

A main course of pureed potatoes, several kinds of fresh mushrooms, soft eggs and crumbles and chips of dried mushrooms – surprisingly the tastiest dish of the meal!; Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

A main course of smoked wreckfish on a bed of black (squid ink) noodles and slivered leeks with the sauce being poured on after the dome lid was removed releasing the smoke; Restaurante

A main course of smoked wreckfish on a bed of black (squid ink) noodles and slivered leeks with the sauce being poured on after the dome lid was removed releasing the smoke; Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

A main course of Iberian pork stuffed with Iberian ham and smoked cheese, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

A main course of Iberian pork stuffed with Iberian ham and smoked cheese, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

The chocolate lover_s dessert, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

The chocolate lover’s dessert, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

The Spanish rendition of the Italian Tiramisu with coffee sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

A Spanish rendition of the Italian Tiramisu with coffee sorbet, Restaurante Fabio Santana, Vegueta (Old Town), Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

The weather-beaten facade of an old Spanish-style building in the historic Vegueta district, Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

The weather-beaten facade of an old Spanish-style building in the historic Vegueta district, Las Palmas, Gran Cararia, Canary Islands

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy

The terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #1

The terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #1

 

On the Amalfi Coast, with friends from the ship, we decided on another splurge luncheon at the best known restaurant along the coast — Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, on the eastern outskirts of Positano. We took a taxi for the short drive (which lasted over an hour due to the terrible traffic jams as cars stopped to allow buses and trucks to navigate the hairpin turns without causing an collision!) from the pier in Amalfi to the village of Positano where we explored on foot before meeting our taxi driver on the (top) edge of town for the drive back east on the Amalfi Drive (the coastal route) to the Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel.  There we were met by several staff members who graciously showed us around the property and sent us down the elevator to the terraced (Michelin-starred) Zass Restaurant where we had a resplendent luncheon overlooking the Amalfi Coast.  Chef Alois Vanlangenaeker oversees a talented staff that works with the freshest local ingredients to produce dishes that are both creative, and delicious and showcase the local ingredients.  A memorable restaurant that is highly recommended (along with the hotel rooms where other friends stayed in advance of our arrival in Amalfi).

 

A view of the town of Positano, looking west, from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #2

A view of the town of Positano, looking west, from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #2

 

The view looking east towards the town of Amalfi from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #3

The view looking east towards the town of Amalfi from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #3

 

The view looking down at the water and nearby wine vineyards from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #4

The view looking down at the water and nearby wine vineyards from the terrace of Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #4

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #5

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #5

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #6

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #6

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #7

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #7

 

“The cuisine of Campania, one of the most appealing Italian cuisines, is served at this restaurant [Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel].  It has a creative touch and exploits the full intensity of its colours and flavours.  A dream come true thanks to the terrace overlooking the sea.” — www.viamichelin.com

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #8

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #8

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #9

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #9

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #10

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #10

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #11

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #11

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #12

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #12

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #13

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #13

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #14

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #14

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #15

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #15

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #16

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #16

 

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #17

Zass Restaurant at Il San Pietro di Positano Hotel, Positano, Italy #17

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy

Luigi Pesce's Acqua Pazza is Ponza, Italy's leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace

Luigi Pesce’s Acqua Pazza is Ponza, Italy’s leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace

 

With friends from the ship, we decided to splurge and enjoy the Michelin-starred restaurant in Ponza for a delightful luncheon. “Luigi Pesce’s Acqua Pazza is Ponza’s leading gourmet restaurant, situated in its scenic port with views of the sea from the outdoor terrace. The owner-chef celebrates the island’s produce in his imaginative cuisine, from raw fish dishes to the acqua pazza (fish poached in a tomato sauce) from which the restaurant takes its name.” — www.viamichelin.com/web/Restaurant/PONZA

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #1

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #1

 

Little Known Fact: The term acqua pazza, which literally means “crazy water” in Italian, was coined in Ponza at the iconic Acqua Pazza restaurant where the recipe for the lightly herbed broth made of fresh tomatoes, olives and capers used to poach white fish, was created

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #2

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #2

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #3

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #3

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #4

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #4

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #5

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #5

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #6

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #6

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #7

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #7

 

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #8

Luncheon at Acqua Pazza, Ponza, Italy #8

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hiking on Elba (island), Italy and Eat Local: Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba

The slopes of Elba’s highest peak, Monte Capanne

The slopes of Elba’s highest peak, Monte Capanne, were the setting for a round-trip, guided hike from Marciana Alta, the island’s loftiest village, Elba (island), Italy; the yellow “baskets” on the slope are the gondola servicing the peak (hidden in the morning clouds)

 

A small group of us from the ship, accompanied by a local hiking guide, journeyed to the western mountains on Elba for a day’s outing.  The slopes of Elba’s highest peak were the setting for a round-trip, guided hike from Marciana Alta, the island’s loftiest village.  The trailhead was about an hour’s drive from the pier, on the northern side of Monte Capanne, the island’s highest mountain.  We hiked across green fields in the Pedalta Valley and into a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, eventually making our way uphill to the Hermitage of San Cerbone, about 1,740 feet (530 m) above sea level.  Built by the Benedictines around 1421 A.D., the small church was restored in 1993.  Although our trek did not reach Capanne’s peak, we had panoramic views of Elba and the seaside village of Marciana Marina and passed under the gondala for hikers going up to the top of the mountain.  After hiking up approximately 3 miles (5 km), we headed back down to the medieval village of Marciana Alta, passing by the Pisan Fortress. In Marciana Alta we had a multi-course feast of a luncheon at Osteria del Noce, specializing in local seafood and pasta.  We ordered local wines and the local specialties, particularly the homemade pastas.  Everything was delicious and we were quite impressed with the quality of all the dishes, high up in the mountains.  The quantities certainly were right for our group, too, famished after a long morning of hiking on Mount Capanne.  We probably consumed more calories that we burned off that morning – par for the course in Italy!

 

The hiking trail went up through a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, Elba (island), Italy

The hiking trail went up through a forest of chestnut and holm oak trees, Elba (island), Italy

 

Our hike afforded excellent views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea, Elba (island), Italy; the coastal town is Marciana Marina

Our hike afforded excellent views of the island and the Mediterranean Sea, Elba (island), Italy; the coastal town is Marciana Marina

 

As we descended Monte Capanna into the hillside village of Marciana Alta, we passed by the Pisan Fortreess, Elba (island), Italy

As we descended Monte Capanna into the hillside village of Marciana Alta, we passed by the Pisan Fortreess, Elba (island), Italy

 

To begin our small hiking group luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy, we were served some homemade bread with a nice bottle of local vino rosso (Red wine) – grown a

To begin our small hiking group luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy, we were served some homemade bread with a nice bottle of local vino rosso (Red wine) – grown and produced in town (Marciana Alta)

 

Lightly fried local sardines with a pine nut sauce was a starter in our luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Lightly fried local sardines with a pine nut sauce was a starter in our luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Squid and bean salad, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Squid and bean salad, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Tomatoes topped with thin slices of tuna, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Tomatoes topped with thin slices of tuna, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Fresh clams, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Fresh clams, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Steamed mussels, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Steamed mussels, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Linguine with a tomato fresh crab sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Linguine with a tomato fresh crab sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Spaghetti with fresh clams, mussels and tomatoes, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Spaghetti with fresh clams, mussels and tomatoes, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Homemade linguine with truffles, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

Homemade linguine with truffles, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

A local Tuscan special pasta, trofie (corkscrew-shaped pasta), in a tomato sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

A local Tuscan special pasta, trofie (corkscrew-shaped pasta), in a tomato sauce, luncheon at Osteria del Noce, Marciana Alta, Elba, Italy

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat and Drink Local: Azienda Agricola Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast -- “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the

Le Macchiole (winery) is in Bolgheri, Italy, on the Etruscan Coast — “in this magical place, where rolling hills are blanketed by forest, where vineyards and olive trees meet with the Tyrrhenian Sea”

 

From our dock in the port of Livorno, a small group of us drove an hour south to the beautiful Bolgheri wine region on the west coast of Italy.  Bolgheri (also the name of the central town in the region) is the newest wine region in Italy and has become very successful over the past few decades, producing some excellent wines, usually in small quantities.  Our first stop was at Le Macchiole (winery) where we had a wonderful personal tour, wine tasting and luncheon.  Many thanks to our hostess, Veronica, and Chef Gionata d’Alessi of Io Cucion Restaurant in Bibbona (a municipality in the Province of Livorno and the chef’s birthplace) for an outstanding meal.

 

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

The winery production uses very contemporary, state-of-the-art equipment at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

“A living legend, Le Macchiole is today recognized as one of Tuscany’s finest wine estates.  Indeed, Le Macchiole is lauded as much for the consistency and quality of its wines, as it is for opening doors and increasing the sex appeal of the once little known Bolgheri region.

It began with a dream of one very special couple – Eugenio Campolmi and his wife Cinzia Merli. Living a comfortable life running Eugenio’s parents’ retail business, they longed to make wine in Tuscany, and set about exploring the region to discover the perfect site for their ambitions.

In 1983, Eugenio and Cinzia came across a special piece of land in the then largely unheard-of Bolgheri region, just 5 miles from the coast.  It was love at first sight – they planted several hectares of international varieties and produced their first vintage in 1987.  Released in 1989, the inaugural Paleo Rosso was received to universal critical acclaim, validating the couple’s pioneering strategy of making varietal wines in the Bolgheri coastline.  Critics praised the power, elegance and above all the remarkable concentration inherent to their wines, which has only improved since the initial releases.

Sadly, however, Eugenio died in 2002, leaving his widow Cinzia and her brother Massimo to continue his pioneering work and forge a legacy worthy of the family name.  Understanding and enhancing their unique terroir has been the overriding aim, with a painstaking amount of work going into vineyard management and matching a particular variety of vine to a special place.

But, as anyone who has sampled these delicious wines will testify, the rewards have more than justified the team’s hard work.  Today, Le Macchiole continues to make some of the greatest wines in the region, characterized by their balance, finesse and yet intense aromas and complexity.  Accessible on release, the wines will age gracefully for many years.” — www.cellartours.com/italy/italian-wineries/le-macchiole

 

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project

One of the Corten steel frames set up in the vineyards of Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, by the family owners as part of their “Messorio04Bolgheri” project: “We would like those who visit our winery, walk through the town’s streets, cycle or drive along Via Bolgherese, to feel the urge to stop, relax and take in the beauty of the landscape around them, through the frames showcasing [the Nobel Prize in Literature winning Italian poet] Giosuè Carducci’s [1835-1907] best-loved sites.  We would like them to feel part of a wonderful place, just even for a moment, recite the Poet’s verses, open their eyes and heart to beauty.  This is what we wish for, and this is why we donated the frames to the people of Castagneto and Bolgheri and to all those who would like to come and enjoy the beauty of our land.”

 

“It was 2012, and I had been working for Le Macchiole for barely a year when Cinzia told me that she had a project in mind that would help promote the town of Castagneto Carducci: forty-eight 6-liter Magnum bottles of Messorio 2004 — an extraordinary vintage, even unique in some respects — up for sale.  ‘How about doing something with the proceeds from the sale- she said- to help our area?’  I thought it over for a few days.  Then I suddenly remembered myself as a child going to markets with my uncle, a street vendor, in his white truck and driving along the road to Volterra.  Every single time, my eye was attracted to an old, empty billboard frame on the side of the road near Ponteginori.  It was somehow ugly and fascinating at the same time: it framed the landscape perfectly, and never the same landscape.  Always different views, depending on the angle of vision, the time of the day, the season of the year.  And so, a sunset sky was not only beautiful: all it took was a rusty frame to make it a beautiful, framed sunset sky.  Basically, a work of art.  So I said to myself: why shouldn’t we do the same thing?  After all, Carducci used to come to Bolgheri to observe the landscape.  Well, yes, his beloved grandmother was there, waiting for him, but he gained inspiration for his poetry by contemplating the natural beauty of our land.  Magnificent landscapes, sweet hills and sunsets.  I was thinking of maxi frames, framing some of the town’s loveliest views, made of Corten steel, a metal which has a rust-like appearance and, besides bringing me back to my childhood memories, oozes with history and tradition.  And then I came up with the idea of doing it in the 16:9 format, which is the international standard format for multimedia, allowing passers-by and tourists to take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #messorio04bolgheri.  No two photos of the same place will ever look the same, with the background constantly changing, whether because of a cloud, the sunlight, a nuance or the sky a different shade of blue.  And, who knows?  Maybe someone, though unaware of it, will be lucky enough to see exactly what the Poet saw.” — Antonio Sanna

 

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Primo (first course) Raviolino di Pappa al Pomodoro e Burrata (small raviolis filled with tomato soup and Burrata cheese); luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Bolgheri Rosso (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) 2016

 

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with

Secondo (second course) Filettino de Agnello con Pancetta e Misticanza (pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with Mesculin salad), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Paleo Rosso (100% Cabernet Franc) 2014 and Scrio (100% Syrah) 2009 and Messorio (100% Merlot) 2011

 

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!)

Cheese Selection with homemade bread, luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy, served with Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!)

 

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship_s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy_

A close up of the Messorio (100% Merlot) 2002 (celebrating our ship’s launching year!) and cheese at our luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

 

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Dolci (dessert) Crostatina con spuma al Mascarpone e fondente (Chocolate Mascarpone mousse tart), luncheon at Le Macchiole (winery), Bolgheri, Italy

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.